This Palehound article was written by Fraisia Dunn, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Stephen Butchard.
Bristol certainly did their utmost to make Palehound welcome on the second night of their British tour. The band, who hail from Boston, are touring with label mates Amber Arcades as part of the UK release of their debut album, ‘Dry Food’, via Heavenly Records.
Ellen Kempner steps onto stage and says she “needs to chill out”. She explains that she has just been playing Zelda and is somewhat stressed. She takes a deep breath and starts. What follows is an hour of powerful playing. The crowd are exuberant- Ellen is surprised, “such a small room with so much noise”. The band is baffled by the Bristolian accents as the exultant crowd shout their appreciation; “Fucking tidy!” comes one cry, Ellen responds, “OK, I have no idea what you are saying.”
The band take the audience on an odyssey of ups and downs; the time changes, contrast between screeching guitars, introspective moments, and slapping of the bass all make for an explosive gig. For just three people, Palehound can make a lot of noise. When ‘Healthier Folk’ degenerates into a series of falling scales screaming downwards, the crowd are forced to appreciate the heaviness Palehound are capable of rendering. By this point, excited viewers are demanding that everything gets turned up.
Kempner develops a real camaraderie with the crowd. She explains that the band are facing a ‘conundrum’ and then reveals that they have no where to spend the night. Offers are promptly made and a place to lay their head is sorted. This closeness must be due in part to the extremely intimate nature of the songs played. ‘Dry Food’ is about getting over a messy break up, so we are invited into Ellen’s heart and mind. This title track comes in about half way through the set—it is a ballad played in ¾ time and the crowd are shushed as she tells about the immediate aftermath of this hard time “oh, but I’m over it” she sings, convincing herself that she will be ok. Her voice is impressively sweet, loud and powerful.
Part of the joy of Palehound is their mixture of loundness and control. They rock out, but tracks like 60s- surf tinged ‘Seakonk’ show a certain precision in pop composition and playing that is unexpectedly refined.
Palehound certainly added a dimension of roaring beauty, pain and strength to a grey Wednesday night in Bristol. Catch them before they leave the UK
Palehound are on tour with Amber Arcades until Sunday March 6. Their latest album, ‘Dry Food’ is out now via Heavenly Records.